Lee Smith owns and runs three branches of The Poppyseed Bakery – Western Road in Bexhill, as well as Gildredge Road and Hawthorn Road in Eastbourne.
This year Lee came top three in the ‘Baker of the Year’ category at the Baking Industry Awards which were held at the Park Plaza Country Hall Hotel in London on October 21.
Lee was presented with the award by Strictly Come Dancing’s Craig Revel Horwood.
Lee said an independent judge visits your bakery to look at how you run your business, quality of products and how well you have done over the past year. He was a runner up in 2016 and won the ‘Speciality Bread’ category at the awards last year – a category he judged this year.
After finding out the results Lee said, “I am really pleased to have got into the top three again. Naturally I would of liked to have won but it is for the whole of the UK so to reach the last three is also good.
“The awards evening is a very good night. Hundreds and hundreds of people from the industry attend.”
Talking about the impact covid has had on his business, Lee said it was a ‘very tough time’ for the industry. A lot of his business comes from supplying coffee shops and restaurants – something that was lost that when we were in lockdown.
He said, “We managed to keep two of our three shops open and offered home deliveries with no minimum order. We ended up doing approximately 120 home deliveries per day. We started to sell flour as we had tons of it when everyone else struggled to get any. Our wholesale customers have survived a very difficult time and thankfully are all now trading well.”
Since he set up the business 18 years ago, Lee has done very well when it comes to awards. This includes being crowned ‘Britain’s Best Loaf’ four times and winning at ‘The World Bread Awards’ three times.
Lee said he even got down to the last three to be a judge on The Great British Bake Off, a role that went to Paul Hollywood.
To find out more go to www.thepoppyseed.co.uk